2802RE: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table
- Apr 2, 2014Is this an April Fool 'a prank ??? Lol
Mark J. McLaurin
Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.) Local 500
901 Russell Avenue, Suite 400
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
(301) 740-7100 -Voice
(301) 740- 7139- Fax
(240) 477-9608- Cell
From: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com [BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of S. Alex Williams [alex@...]
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 2:46 PM
To: BYMSM Workgroup
Subject: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table
Paul Kawata seems to be leading the charge as to raising questions about the lack of CDC CBA awards made to African American-run organizations.
If we are unable to craft our own statement or mobilize effectively around this issue then perhaps this is the bandwagon, those of us who are willing, should jump on.
S. Alex Williams
Begin forwarded message:
Making Room At The Table
by Paul Kawata
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the list of organizations that were awarded contracts to provide capacity building services under a new 5 year cooperative agreement to community based organizations and health departments. NMAC was honored to be one of those included, and we are very thankful for the opportunity. However, we were also disappointed that no African American-specific organizations received an award. While a number of the agencies chosen have the capacity to provide quality, culturally competent services to African American serving CBOs and health departments, the absence of any African American-run organizations was surprising.
Previously, the CDC funded organizations like the Balm in Gilead, the Black AIDS Institute, My Brother's Keeper, and South Side Help Center, who provided linkages and brought the voice of African Americans to the table. Given recent changes in our movement, and the competitive nature of the process, I can appreciate that not all previously-funded groups would receive renewed funding. However, when no black organizations are selected, it gives me pause, particularly given the CDC's stated focus on targeting those communities most heavily impacted by the epidemic.
Optics matter. Previous Presidents for example, may have proven themselves as steadfast allies to communities of color in their fight for civil rights and equality. But their support, however strong, could never compare to the election of the first ever Black president. The significance of President Obama's election and his time in office, rose above the individual man and his policies, and has forever changed the psyche of our nation. We no longer have to work within previous power constructs, hoping to be granted a seat at the table. Now people of color sit at the head of that table. And it's important that we not lose sight of the importance of having us in the room.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), for example, represents the voice of state AIDS directors. While many other organizations provide excellent capacity building services to health departments, no organization is better situated to accomplish this than NASTAD. In the same way, no organization is better placed to serve African American CBOs than those run by, and for African Americans themselves. There are a number of qualified consulting firms and universities that were selected under this cooperative agreement and my concerns are in no way a reflection or their work or the quality of their services. It is about the glaring absence of any organizations run by and members of the community and population most heavily impacted by HIV. I hope that the CDC will meet with leaders from the community to identify ways that they can meaningfully collaborate to ensure that African Americans are adequately represented moving forward.
President Obama has repeatedly shown his commitment to addressing the needs of the African American community. In his 2011 World AIDS Day remarks, he said that America must do more to show that the lives of Black gay men matter. Last month, he launched the White House's initiative "My Brother's Keeper," focused on young men of color. And just last week, he appointed Douglas Brooks director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. This historic selection makes Brooks the first Black gay man living openly with HIV to hold the position. Following the announcement, I stated that<http://nmac.convio.net/site/R?i=Z8n8b_5xS6XjI8WqGlTWRQ> "as the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that Black gay men – especially those living with HIV – are represented at the highest levels of our government's response to the epidemic." By choosing Brooks, the President sent a message that was much larger than Brooks himself. He has shown Black gay men and people living with HIV that they matter. Their voices and leadership are central to ending this epidemic. Let’s hope this important message does not get lost.
Yours in the struggle,
National Minority AIDS Council
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